ACCC updates guidance material for Horticulture Code

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Who does the Code apply to?
The Horticulture Code applies to any person or business that grows and sells unprocessed horticulture produce to a trader. If you sell horticulture produce, you need to have a valid Horticulture Produce Agreement (HPA) in place with each trader that buys your produce or sells it on your behalf. The code doesn’t apply to growers who sell their horticulture produce to a business that sells directly to consumers, such as a supermarket or greengrocer, or to an exporter.  

What is the Code?
The Horticulture Code is a mandatory industry code covering the sale of unprocessed horticultural produce, such as fruit, vegetables, edible fungi and nuts. The aim of the Code is to ensure transparency and clarity of trading arrangements in the horticultural industry and provide a fair and equitable dispute resolution procedure.

What is the guidance material?
To assist growers and traders of horticultural produce better understand their rights and responsibilities, the ACCC has updated its Code guidance: www.accc.gov.au/horticulturecode. This refresh of the ACCC’s guidance has improved readability and the level of detail to make it more relevant and practical.

What do the updates say?
Traders who are merchants and whose HPA states that the price will be determined by a method or formula are required to report the price they paid growers and the price paid by the third-party buyer. This means a grower who sells to a merchant can see what buyers pay for their fruit or vegetables. The ACCC believes this information is important to provide greater price transparency for growers and enhance competition.

The updated guidance also describes the Code’s requirement for traders to make terms of trade, the standard terms and conditions under which a trader is prepared to do business with growers, publicly available.

The ACCC expects traders to do more than just make terms of trade available upon request, or available at their business premises. The terms of trade provide growers with transparency on the trading conditions proposed, which allows growers to compare traders’ terms quickly and easily.

The ACCC intends to conduct ongoing compliance checks in the horticulture industry and will strongly consider enforcement action where it identifies non-compliance. These checks are important in assessing the effectiveness of, and level of compliance with, the Code.
 

Why has the ACCC updated its guidance?

Following recent compliance checks, the ACCC identified some issues that required clarification. We took the opportunity to update our guidance to assist growers and traders understand their rights and responsibilities.

The update is timely given the ACCC’s guidance was last revised in 2017 with the introduction of the current version of the code. The years since have provided the opportunity for multiple rounds of compliance checks, as well as the opportunity for helpful industry feedback.